Previous Features

From issue 249 - March 2018

Rocker's Reunion
Rivermead Leisure Centre, Reading - Saturday, 20th January 2018

By Geoff Mitcham, Melksham

It started by leaving Melksham at 2:30pm and a very pleasant drive to Reading with no hitches. Arrived at 4pm and, this time the doors were already open so we could all sit down out of the chilly air. At 5pm we were called back to the door to get our wrist bands. Much more civilized than previous years even if it wasn't supposed to happen. Wildcat Pete started things off followed by a new band to me, The Sun-Rayz, introduced by Stu, who did a great but short set. They all looked and sounded like seasoned professionals and launched into '30 Days', 'Boppin' The Blues' and a lovely version of 'Green Door'. It's a shame that people were still coming in as I'm sure more people would have appreciated them. They finished up with a couple of Eddie Cochran numbers including 'Somethin' Else' followed by 'Mona Lisa' and encored with 'Please Mama Please'.

Pete Bruce took over and I had a walk round the stalls and chatted to a few old mates until Race With The Devil came on. They did an amazing tribute to Gene Vincent and covered a lot of songs I didn't recognise other than 'Cat Man', 'Ain't She Sweet' and 'Blue Jean Baby'. They also did a blistering version of 'Train Kept A Rollin' as an encore. Very tight band with a superb guitarist. Pete Bruce was back on again and we were all waiting for one of the highlights of the evening, Johnnie Fox & The Hunters. Johnnie has always been a class act and he has a good band behind him. It was nice to see Josh playing the double bass now he's a grown lad. I always knew he was destined to play with a band. We had '40 Days', 'Tennessee Border', 'Okie Boogie' and after 'Wipe Out' and Josh's solo we had the rebel flag waved on stage. Johnnie was dressed as a Southern rebel followed by Pogues whiskey being passed around. I'll have to try that. They finished with 'Wooley Bully' and encored with 'Rockabilly Rebel'. Superb!

Next was Pete Bruce again and I had another wander around while they set up for The Fantoms who looked fantastic in their shiny silver suits and Steve was now on the mike. They kicked off with 'Saturday Night At The Duck Pond' followed by an array of 50's and 60's British Rock 'n' Roll including 'My Little Girl', 'Gee Whiz It's You' and encoring with 'Brand New Cadillac'. They might go down well at Melksham. Wildcat Pete returned and next we had the stars of the evening, Bill Haley Jnr. and the most amazing band made up of musicians from various other bands. I don't know how often they'd played together but they were on fire and I thought the drummer was going to break his sticks the way he was hitting the drums. A funny moment was when they handed out the jackets and the keyboard player got the smallest which didn't fit.

We had all the hits and his voice was remarkably similar to his Dad's and I wondered where he'd been hiding all these years. 'Saints Rock 'n' Roll' and 'Rock Around The Clock' brought the set to an end but that wasn't enough for the crowd so they encored with 'See Ya Later Alligator', 'Burn That Candle' and 'Shake Rattle & Roll'. I hope I see him again but sadly I doubt it will be with this band.

Wildcat Pete took over ready for Crazy Cavan who always finishes the evening although many have commented there should be a change and I sometimes agree. When the band are on form they are superb but tonight they weren't at all. They had to restart one song; Cavan's voice didn't sound as good as usual and they just weren't together at all. The audience couldn't care less though as they were enjoying every minute but I'd had enough as I'd been suffering from a cold so I decided to go home.

It was a marvellous evening and I thoroughly enjoyed it apart from the stage lights. LED's are a great invention but when it comes to taking photos they can be an absolute nightmare. It was slightly warmer than last year but the tables were still too close together. If there's two chairs back to back you can't get past. Luckily, this year, I sat on the outside row to make life easier but I still feel there's plenty of room to make the gaps wider. It was a milder night than usual so it was a pleasant drive home and I was home and in bed by 2am.


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